My brother's Keeper: Regulation of the brother-sister relationship in the religious personal laws of India

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Abstract

This article analyses the continued denial of equality to women in India's religious personal laws by focusing on the rights of brothers and sisters to illustrate the repeated failures of law. Although this failure has been normalised by deploying various conceptual tools, these theoretical trends need to be challenged. This article examines the 2005 amendment to the Hindu Succession Act which, although giving women extensive property rights, still gave sisters lesser rights than their brothers. It demonstrates that the concept of religious personal laws is a construct which is often used uncritically, and that it legitimises the denial of equal rights to women. The paper combines critical geography scholarship and legal feminist insights to argue that the law must be aware of spatial practices and that it is essential for legal thinkers to engage with the law in more than an instrumental sense. It analyses the processes of knowledge production and explores how the constitutive aspects of legal knowledge can be better integrated into legal scholarship. It thus aims to make visible the many spaces of the law: where laws are made; where ideas about men and women as owners of property are normalised; and where the law is expected to be implemented. It argues for legal scholars to be present and engaged in the contestation of meanings of the law.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-122
Number of pages16
JournalSouth Asia
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013

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